These are unprecedented times and I have never seen anything like this in my time in Local Government.
Indeed, by the time you read this, events may well have overtaken some of the key messages I want to outline in this article.
The first priority for any Council in such a situation is the safety of its residents. That is why I urge all residents to take heed of the Public Health guidance on how to maintain social distancing and what to do if you think you have Covid, or someone you know does. All the key information is here
We must all take pay attention to this advice so we can minimise the already huge pressure on the NHS. And I want to pay tribute to all members of the public sector who are literally working around the clock on supporting services in the public sector. They are truly amazing.
I wanted to outline to you the steps your Council is taking to support Gosport at this time. We are:
- Working hard with the Gosport Voluntary Action (GVA) team to help coordinate the significant amount of volunteering that needs to take place. Gosport has an incredible volunteer ethos already and we will really need this; not least as many of our volunteers may now no longer be able to help as much as they have done already. Please visit the GVA and Council web-sites to see how you can help;
- The Council has earmarked funding to support Volunteer Groups in the Borough. This to help those that can have an impact on the Covid situation but are facing financial pressures;
- The Council website also has loads of links and information related to the pandemic, in particular the financial support that is coming to businesses via the rates system. And also for residents in terms of Benefits support and Local Council Tax Support. Please review these to see if you can get help with your finances;
- We have closed the Town Hall to the public and council teams have been instructed to work from home and follow Public Health guidance but they are also at risk from getting ill. The Council has resilience plans in place to support our Mission Critical areas so we can move staff to other areas of the Council if we need to;
- Examining how we can support our most vulnerable members of society, particularly if more residents need to self-isolate for 12 weeks following advice from the NHS. We have the necessary links and partnerships in place across both the care and public sectors and we will mobilise our staff to support those who need it most;
Finally, no-one knows what the full impact of this pandemic will be. The Council is planning ahead in case our day-to-day services are impacted. Whilst we do have plans in place it could be that services we all take for granted are disrupted or even stopped altogether. We will do our best to avoid this but we’ve all seen just how devastating this pandemic has been.